Lake Minnetonka Gluten-Free Dinner Entrees

Here’s your gluten-free gustatory guide.
Duck Menage a Trois from Bistro 11 comes with a creamy duck risotto.

“Gluten free” is quite the dietary catchphrase these days, but what does it mean? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Those who suffer from the autoimmune disorder called Celiac disease get all kinds of sick from gluten. If this is your story, you know it’s not enough to simply avoid wheat. Gluten lurks in unlikely places: ketchup, ice cream, soy sauce, cosmetics, even vitamins. Luckily, gluten awareness is de rigueur in today’s dining scene and many lake-area spots boast a separate gluten-free menu. We’ve complied a few of our favorites for your dietary enjoyment below.


Miso-Glazed Shrimp and Scallops with Edamame Succotash

Lord Fletcher’s

Lord Fletcher’s may be “old school” but they keep current with food trends and are eager to extol their gluten-free awareness. Our server walked us through the menu dish-by-dish, dispelling any shyness I’d harbored about making a special request. The most delicious of our entrees was the miso-glazed shrimp and scallops with edamame succotash. The seared scallops were creamy in the center; the shrimp countered with a firm, smoky bite. The sweet and earthy miso softened a sharp lashing of heat. The seafood sat atop a mélange of edamame, corn, red bell pepper, garlic and onion—a buttery, crisp and colorful twist on the traditional lima-bean-based dish. All arranged on a fashionable square-shaped plate, it was a veritable tableau of edible (and gluten-free) art. $29. 3746 Sunset Dr., Spring Park; 952.471.8513


Salmon Pad Thai

Big Bowl

Big Bowl has a separate and oh-so-convenient gluten-free menu, and the options are surprisingly extensive. Think noodles are out of bounds? Not here: rice noodles are gluten free! Salmon pad Thai sounded novel, and it revealed complex flavors to justify its existence. The line-caught wild Alaskan sockeye was glazed with a pattern of Thai basil and cilantro leaves and moist on the inside. The noodles sat apart, unassuming in looks but explosive in the mouth. Napped in a velvety gluten-free pad Thai sauce, the dish was rich with scallions, chopped peanuts, Napa cabbage and bean sprouts all suspended in clouds of soft scrambled egg. Lemony, herbal, crunchy, slurpy—somehow both healthy and decadent. $16.95. 12649 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.797.9888


Vegetarian Lasagna


Spasso’s menu bursts with mouth-watering, gluten-free choices, handily indicated by a red asterisk. Executive chef Ben Peine told us that when he created the “gluten-free” dishes, he wasn’t thinking about gluten but rather the invention of something delicious in its own right. This, apparently, is the key. The vegetarian lasagna sent us over the moon with nary a noodle in sight. Layers of thinly sliced zucchini, eggplant and tomato cozied up with garlicky pesto, triple-cream mascarpone, melted fresh Fontina cheese and a halo of crunchy frizzled sweet potatoes. It was an unctuous, vibrant excavation of vegetable, cheese, herbs and sauce. Drink a glass wine or two (it’s gluten-free!) as Spasso offers astonishing retail prices by the glass. $15. 17523 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.224.9553


Lamb Shish Kebab


We learned something from Gus Parpas, owner of Christos in Minnetonka: Regulations stipulate that a restaurant must have a separate prep space in order to offer an exclusive gluten-free menu.  Christos does not have a separate prep space, but like other restaurants, the chef went above and beyond to accommodate us. We seized the opportunity to eat lamb, and Christos “shish” was a most worthy example of the beast: an admirable exterior char yielded a rosy-tender center steeped in oregano and garlic. The skewered meat cubes alternated with toothsome charred vegetables: a meaty mushroom cap, sheaves of sweet onion, and smoky squares of red and green bell peppers. Every entree comes with a salad. Get it with the homemade dill vinaigrette (normally reserved for the crab cakes) since the regular salad dressing contains a pre-made—thus unknown—quantity of gluten. Isn’t it nice that they tell us these things? Opa! $16.95. 15600 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka; 952.912.1000


Wild Mushroom Risotto

Wayzata Eatery and Wine Bar

Manager Carrie Walstead declares the Wayzata Eatery kitchen to be “good about modifications,” and we agreed, though there is no separate menu here. There are many naturally gluten-free items available, but if you want, say, the teriyaki duck, the chef will leave off the incriminating sauce. The wild mushroom risotto was out of this world: emerald green sugar snap peas, morels and chanterelles, asparagus tips, grape tomatoes, and sage cream bound the Arborio grains together. A profusion of Asiago curls perfected both flavor and presentation. We had to wonder: without the gluten, does the chef add extra fat and salt to compensate? Who cares! This dish made us think of the best macaroni and cheese, elevated to new levels of sophistication. $20. 1179 E. Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata; 952.288.2866


Trio of Spicy Maki                                

Sakana Sushi

Sakana Sushi in Wayzata does not have a separate gluten-free menu, but since the biggest threat in a sushi restaurant is the soy sauce, all is well: Sakana offers low sodium, gluten-free soy sauce which we swore tasted better than the “real” stuff. (Note to self: Arrange soy-sauce-tasting party). We ordered the Spicy Maki Trio and made sure to declare “no crunchies,” better known as tempura flakes. The three beautiful pyramids of coral-pink fish, pale green avocado, translucent rice and ebony nori charmed us even before the first bite. Best of all, the judiciously-applied, mildly spicy sauce allowed the supremely fresh fish to shine. $17.95. 683 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.476.7000


Minnesota Wild Rice Burger 

Gold Nugget Tavern & Grille

Granted, the Gold Nugget’s dedicated “gluten-free” menu is the same as the regular menu, minus the bread, but the gesture is welcome and reassuring. This two-year-old tavern is a convivial den of dark wood, cozy booths, warm globe lights and pressed tin ceilings. It is also a burger heaven for both the carnivorous and the gluten-wary. The Minnesota Wild Rice Burger was a satisfying all-in-one, protein-and-carb bomb. A juicy portobello cap tag-teamed covered a wild rice-stuffed patty and and formed a sort of bun that oozed melted, sharp white cheddar. The sides—coleslaw, French fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings—were also gluten free. Our server even checked to make sure that our sweet potatoes were fried in uncontaminated oil. The Gold Nugget also has gluten-free beer which, surprisingly, tasted exactly like… beer. Cheers! $12.50. 14401 Excelsior Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.935.3600


Duck Menage a Trois

Bistro 11

After a considerable drive through rolling fields and farmland, I couldn’t help but think of Bistro 11 as the “little bistro on the prairie.” But this Loretto haven of fine dining proved anything but provincial. Our veteran server, Thomas Flesher, told us that most of the meat was locally raised—so local that the purveyors of said meat come in to dine on their own beef, pork and duck. The adorably-named “Duck Menage a Trois” on the gluten-free list immediately caught my eye, and for good reason. The rich, pan-seared medallions were paired with a creamy duck confit risotto and an orange-cognac duck demi glace. The meat’s crisp mahogany skin belied a skillfully medium-rare center, and the lush pool of demi glace was sweet but not too sweet. A fountain of emerald-green mache completed the dish. Worth every mile. $24. 115 Railway St. W., Loretto; 952.353.4566